Trainspotting author sees “bleak dystopia” in real life too

Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, the author of “Trainspotting”, a grim comedy about young Scottish drug addicts that was a huge hit in the 1990s, sees “bleak dystopia” in the age of Donald Trump and Britain’s Brexit vote.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JANUARY 22, 2017) (REUTERS) – The author of “Trainspotting”, a grim comedy about young Scottish drug addicts that was a huge hit in the 1990s and still enjoys cult status, sees “bleak dystopia” in the age of Donald Trump and Britain’s Brexit vote.

The novel by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, depicting an underclass hit by industrial decline and scornful of conventional values, now looks prescient of an era marked by popular rejection of establishment politics.

”There is a big technological move that makes people redundant and so Trainspotting is looking at that phenomenon. It’s looking at that thing of people basically not having anything to do. And that’s why it resonates with people who are not from an industrial working class background, because that was the first group of people that had to face that. But now middle class people are facing that as well,” said Welsh, who has published another 11 books since Trainspotting, his first novel.

Britain voted to end its 40-year membership of the European Union last June in a shock referendum result many saw as a protest against established power, in much the same way as Donald Trump’s US presidential election victory has been viewed.

This was rich material for a writer, said Welsh, but “terrible” for ordinary citizens.

“(Trump’s) inauguration speech was almost like he’s the sort of drunken, sex-offender, racist uncle, who has gate-crashed and taken the microphone off the groom and made the groom’s speech,” he told Reuters in an interview in Edinburgh.

Welsh is back in the headlines this week with the release of “T2 Trainspotting”, a film by director Danny Boyle that picks up the story 20 years later.

It is loosely based on Welsh’s novel “Porno” and is a sequel to Trainspotting in which the four anti-heroes, Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie question their loyalties and grapple with the consequences of their misspent youths.

The first Trainspotting movie, also directed by Boyle, became an era-defining hit after its 1996 release.

With its hallucinatory visuals and pulsating soundtrack, the movie shocked many with its scenes of casual and desperate drug taking, brutally exposing a segment of society that had been left behind by the mainstream.

Welsh is from the run-down part of Edinburgh where Trainspotting is set, though he now lives in Chicago, returning to Scotland for around three months a year.

He said he was not part of the literary scene, preferring to spend time with people from other walks of life.